Launching Scotland’s Common Good

Help build a better national common good asset register for Scotland.

Among Scotland’s 2890 common good assets there’s some tremendously esoteric stuff. There are innumerable robes and hats for provosts that do not exist anymore. There are special decorative lamp posts for Provosts of yore. 

There are measuring devices in units we now don’t use, for things we now don’t regulate. 

There are portraits of unknown people and portraits of known people by unknown artists. There are books in German, bell towers, pianos, statues and lots of vaguely defined tiny scraps of land. 

There are also piers, farms, parks and theatres along with numerous bowling clubs, car parks, public toilets, shops, industrial units, golf courses and town halls. There are fishing rights, travellers sites and municipal storage yards. 

Taken together, the whole lot manages to generate a financial surplus of around £20 million pounds a year. A good chunk of that £20 million quid then goes on to support good causes throughout the country. 

We know this because I and my colleagues have used a series of Freedom of Information requests to investigate what Common Good assets Scotland has, and how they are managed. 

No-one would criticise councils using some of these millions for providing additional winter fuel payments to needy pensioners, like they do Inverness, or for funding Christmas lights in Paisley town centre.

But we also found evidence that these assets were not being managed as well as they could be. The law sets out that councils are supposed to manage common good assets separately from other council resources – for the good of the people.

Yet we found that the Net Asset Values of many common good funds are in long-term decline. Some assets still seem to be ill-defined, and it looks like there might be some murky arrangements in some places where council’s take the revenue generated by assets but the common good fund pays the maintenance costs. 

Common good funds, in some places, are used a bit like a civic slush fund – with money spent on booze, limousine hire, and even portraits and plane flights for officials. 

And despite the fact that councils, by law, have to maintain a public asset register of common good funds and account for them separately, there’s still no standard way of doing this. Indeed some councils still haven’t managed to publish their asset register yet. 

To try to fix some of these problems we’ve put together, for the first time, a national common good assets website. This puts data on more than 2890 common good assets in one place. It can be found at

If nothing else we hope that Scotland’s local authorities might start using our template to standardise the way they publish details about their common good assets. 

There’s an entry for each asset on – but we’re under no illusions that many of the listings could be improved. We’ve not been able to map even half of these assets because location information was not provided by councils. In some cases councils themselves don’t seem to know where some of the land held by the local common good fund begins or ends – or even where some of them are at all.  

Many councils have also proven reticent when it comes to providing a specific valuation for their assets. To date, we’ve got specific values for only a few hundred of the common good assets across the country. 

This means we need to ask for your help to help us improve the data we have. Have a look at and see if there are any common good assets near you. 

If there are, can you send us a photo, or any more information about it? And if you work for a local authority and want to improve the register we also want to hear from you. 

You can send anything you find out to



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